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Editorial cartoon (2/15/12)

We’ve got the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice to thank for doing the research that shows once again why politicians who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Bice went back to 2006, when Scott Walker was Milwaukee County executive, to see what Walker had to say about Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle when a purchasing director in the state Department of Administration was indicted in what turned out to be a seriously flawed case initiated by a George W. Bush-appointed U.S. attorney.

When Georgia Thompson was indicted on charges that she steered a state contract to a longtime Doyle supporter, Walker, then running for the GOP nomination for governor, issued a stinging press release that accused Doyle of essentially harboring crooks in his administration.

“Unfortunately, we have a governor that condones unethical and illegal behavior,” Walker pontificated. “The people of Wisconsin deserve better.

“Today’s indictment provides further confirmation that the Doyle administration is damaged and must be removed from the Capitol,” candidate Walker added. “Governor Doyle needs to purge his administration of individuals who place politics and special interests ahead of the people of Wisconsin.

“Little can be said to underscore the seriousness of this charge,” he continued. “I am hopeful that the people of Wisconsin will allow me the opportunity to clean up Madison with the same fervor that guided my reform movement in Milwaukee County.”

Thompson, who had been in state government long before Doyle was elected and was hired under a Republican governor, was surprisingly convicted of two felonies by a federal court jury, but the verdict was thrown out by an appeals court panel that found she had been wrongly convicted and the case against her was based on a serious lack of evidence. There doesn’t appear to be any press release from the Walker camp related to that circumstance, however.

Now it turns out that while Walker was sanctimoniously accusing Doyle of enabling illegal behavior by a woman who was a career civil servant, his personal staff in the county executive’s office was allegedly up to much more serious shenanigans. And while Walker blamed Doyle for not properly supervising a worker in a department outside of the governor’s office, some of the staffers now under indictment worked within earshot of Walker. Still, he insists, he knew nothing of the misdeeds that the Milwaukee County district attorney charges occurred while he was the boss.

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James Rowen, a former investigative reporter for the old Milwaukee Journal who now produces a widely read political and environmental blog, claims to be not surprised by what he calls “the wreck of Gov. Walker.” Rowen insists that Walker’s ethics have been suspect dating all the way back to his days at Marquette University, where he was a student but never graduated.

According to the university’s student paper, the Marquette Tribune, Walker violated campaign guidelines on numerous occasions when running for the student body presidency. The Tribune had endorsed Walker’s opponent, but initially editorialized that it was comfortable that either candidate would serve effectively.

The student paper the next day, however, called Walker “unfit” because he had distributed a mudslinging brochure about his opponent, and several of his campaign workers, upset with the endorsement of his opponent, took piles of the paper and threw them away.

Indeed, politicians like Scott Walker shouldn’t be casting stones at anyone.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com